Louisiana’s 2011 recruiting class had some room for debate
at the top.
Some felt Redemptorist offensive lineman La’el Collins was the
state’s top-ranked prospect.
Others sided with O. Perry Walker defensive tackle Anthony Johnson or Lutcher wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
Through four weeks of college football, Newman wide receiver
Odell Beckham Jr. has shown his name deserved strong consideration.
One year later, there’s not much debating that Dutchtown’s
Landon Collins is the top Louisiana prospect for 2012.
The national attention began when Collins emerged as the
heir apparent at safety to Eric Reid, the nation’s No. 4-ranked safety prospect
in 2010 and a current starter for LSU.
Collins entered the summer as a four-star prospect, but emerged
as a five-star and the nation’s No. 2-ranked safety – thanks in large part to
his MVP performance at The Opening in Oregon.
“I came out trying to represent for Louisiana, but I also
wanted to show that I was one of the best players in the country,” Collins
said. “I felt like I proved something up there.”
So far this fall, it’s been much of the same.
Coming off the best season in Dutchtown’s history, Collins
has made his mark in the team’s 4-0 start.
In an effort to replace last year’s offensive workhorse Effrem Reed, Dutchtown coach Benny Saia asked Collins to play on both sides of the
ball, and through four weeks the 6-foot, 207-pounder has logged significant
snaps at both safety and running back.
Collins’ lone interception came in the season opener against
Lutcher, and one play later he capitalized on the turnover with his first
rushing touchdown. He later added a second score on the ground.
Momentum continued to build two weeks ago against Sulphur
when Collins flashed his special-teams skills when he took a punt 49 yards for
In a 43-22 win over Zachary last Friday, Collins delivered
his biggest statement of the season, rushing for 179 yards and four touchdowns
on seven carries.
“It was a great night, and it would have been even better if
two plays wouldn’t have been brought back,” Collins said. “I had touchdown runs
of 40 yards and 72 yards, but the ref threw flags on both of them.
“I am trying to make a big impact for this team, because I put
the pressure on me to help carry us to the Superdome. Our goal is to get to the
state championship. We weren’t far off last year, and this year everyone is
healthy and staying fresh.”
As for the recruiting game, the five-star safety is taking a
backseat approach – at least for the time being.
“I haven’t been answering a lot of calls, and if they try to
get me at school then I will just get back in touch with the schools that I am
still interested in,” Collins said. “I am trying to keep things as simple as
“My next step will be finalizing all of my visits.”
Though dates have not been set, Collins said that he is sure
of where he will visit.
“I am going to take all five visits, and they will be to
LSU, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Texas,” he said.
“I am going to try and set up a trip to Florida this weekend
for their game against Alabama. Then I will be in Baton Rouge the next weekend
for LSU’s game against Florida. Then I’ll be up at Alabama for the LSU game. I
hadn’t set the Tennessee and Texas visits yet, but I will soon.
“It’s a good schedule for me because I get to see all the
best teams go against each other.”
Collins said that LSU, Alabama and California were the schools
that have already sent coaches out to see him play during his senior campaign.
“Les Miles came first, and I saw him standing down on the
sidelines keeping an eye on things,” Collins said. “Then Cal sent a coach down
after that, and (running backs coach) Burton Burns came over from Alabama on
“After coach Burns came this past weekend, he told me that
Alabama was going to recruit me at running back and safety. I don’t know about
that though. It’s not really anything I have thought about. I’ve always been
about playing defense.”
Through four weeks of college football, Collins is confident
in his two leaders – in large part because of how impressive both SEC teams
look on defense.
“It’s still LSU and Alabama for me,” Collins said. “I feel
like both of their defenses are doing excellent. They are holding teams down
and then the defensive backs are grabbing interceptions.
“I have liked what I’ve seen from LSU. Coach Chavis is
coaching them up really well right now. They went wild against Oregon, and they
held West Virginia back. I know they gave up yards, but Geno Smith is a really
good quarterback, so I understood what Coach Chavis was trying to do. If they
would have made some tackles and not dropped a couple interceptions, then it
would have probably been an even bigger win.”
A rare occurrence in the recruiting world, Collins has an
inside track to both programs because of high school teammates who emerged into
regulars on Saturday afternoons.
“(Eddie) Lacy is really doing his thing when he runs the
rock up at Alabama, and of course Eric (Reid) is holding things down at safety
for Coach Chavis and LSU,” Collins said.
“I have been keeping up with Eric a lot. I text with him
after games, and this past weekend after West Virginia I messed with him about
dropping that interception. I call him butterfingers, and he doesn’t like
Collins said he plans to announce his decision at the Under
Armour All-America Bowl in January.